Automotive BMW ix from BMW i division

Published on December 29th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair


BMW’s Global Marketing Hiccups Continue…

We’ve long held a simple belief: BMW makes great driving cars, but the company itself seems to not know what to do with itself. Back in 2017, they were already raising eyebrows (ours mostly) with regards to the slightly distasteful “Too Much is Just Right” campaign on BMW M cars (which they’ve since removed), and earlier this year they released some really controversial designs. Now, we’re not going to call them ugly because it’s all a matter of taste, but the new grilles are not only large, but they’re also kind of strange looking on the new M3, M4, and iX in particular.

And here’s the real kicker – BMW knew the public didn’t like the new designs. They received an enormous amount of negative feedback online. Instead of just letting it go, they fought back. And what mighty weapon did the mighty Bavarian marketing team wield in their battle against disgruntled fans? Why the mighty outdated meme, of course.

In a tweet that they’ve since apologised for and removed, BMW officially dropped the “OK, Boomer” meme – one that originated in 2015, gained popularity in 2019 and quickly expired even before the pandemic took hold. The marketing team thought it wise to resurrect it a whole year after its death to shame a fan comment asking it (quite reasonably) to “GO BACK TO MAKING BMWs”. This is a meme whose entire message is to mock an entire generation of consumers, many of whom were probably fit into BMW’s customer profile for decades.

Yes, by this point, a month has passed and they’ve apologised and deleted the comment. But it’s really not the last of BMW’s 2020 marketing mishaps. Now it seems that the company wants to go into something far more sinister in the UK.

BHP diesel

Using ‘Targeted Billboards’, the company is seeking to scan customer license plates in the UK and if the car is older than 35 months of age, it’ll show them a message on a digital screen. The message will be to warn them that their vehicles might be out of warranty and to advise them to purchase an extended warranty.

Now think about how that might make a customer feel. BMW have already addressed the initial privacy concern by saying that they’re not comparing the information to find out the actual warranty status of the car. Instead they’ll just see if the car’s 35 months or older and use that information to ‘assume’ that the warranty might be expired.

If inaccurate, what you have is a rather ineffective ad. A customer could be driving out of a BMW showroom with a fresh warranty on his used BMW and still be shown that ad, right? If accurate, then you have the initial concern from an owner. After all, if I drive past a digital billboard and it tells me “Hey, your BMW warranty might be expired” I wouldn’t be insane to assume that it had some of my private information even if that was just an assumption that was made.

At best, it’s a little creepy.

But at worst, it’s kind of demeaning. Presumably, these digital billboards would be visible not just to the owner of the vehicle, but their passengers and other road users. Imagine if you’re being driven around in your 3 year old 7 Series and talking to your prominent client in the back seat. The car comes to a stop at a traffic light and bam, you both see an ad about used BMW approved warranties.

What do you think would be going through your client’s head at that moment?

Once again, BMW makes some of the best cars I’ve ever driven. Consistently they get the drive right. Mind you, this isn’t even a BMW Malaysia problem – this is a BMW GLOBAL brand problem. TO BE FAIR, their M Town videos aren’t bad. If anything, they’re a little overproduced.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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